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Spa Music

By: Wilma Fernando
Posted: June 11, 2008, from the November 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

The healing effects of music have been noted for millenniums. In ancient Greece, Apollo was both the god of music and medicine. Pythagoras, one of the sages in ancient Greece, demonstrated that music actually could change behavior patterns and accelerate the healing process. Plato said, “Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, a gaiety and life to everything.” It is said that Alexander the Great was restored to sanity by the music of a lyre—a stringed instrument. In the Himalayas and Sri Lanka, daily sacred healing chants have been performed by Buddhist monks for more than 2,000 years.

Music therapy has been used in hospitals, mental health centers, nursing homes and resorts for centuries. The right music can play an important role in calming the mind, allowing the full benefit of a treatment to restore peace and harmony within the body. Sound healing, like other mind-body treatments offered in spas, helps to break the stress cycle. Music energizes and relaxes one’s body, awakens our feelings, motivates our actions, soothes us to sleep, helps us not to think, wakes us up and ignites the soul.

Interpreting music

When the sound of music enters the brain, the electrical energy released by the neurons creates various frequencies of brain waves. The different frequencies are called beta, alpha, theta and delta waves. Beta waves are most prevalent during focused and active thinking, alpha waves during relaxation and quiet creativity, theta waves during meditation and before sleep, and delta waves during sleep.

Once music has been processed by the brain, it is transformed into an electrical pulse that travels down the spinal cord. This causes an impact on the autonomic nervous system, which, in turn, affects the heart rate, blood pressure, pulse and muscle tension. An example of this is soothing Indian raga—a type of classical music that can lower blood pressure. Hard rock music does just the opposite.

Music for entrainment. Entrainment refers to being in sync. In other words, the body and mind automatically adjust to the pace, rhythm and pulse of the melody. Music has the ability to unite the body, mind and spirit. Music entrainment brings about harmony within the body, which accelerates the healing process. It also is one of the few experiences that can touch a person on all levels of consciousness.